Sections: Opinion

OPINION: Mentality change needed for safe water

PHUKET: Water-related issues are a constant source of complaints received both at the Phuket Gazette editorial offices and at Provincial Hall.

A recent online poll revealed a great deal of confusion among readers as to whether or not household tap water is safe to drink. Overall, less than 20 per cent of those taking part in the poll thought it was, while nearly half said it was not.

More than one-third answered, “I don’t know”. (See news story, this week’s issue of the Gazette. Digital subscribers click here to download the full newspaper.)

The directors of the island’s two largest public waterworks say their water is potable when it leaves their treatment plants, but won’t make any promises about the water’s quality after that.

The fact that the people responsible for these supply systems won’t vouch for the quality of their product as delivered to the end user can only be regarded as a red flag for anyone considering quenching his thirst straight from the tap.

We understand the many challenges facing these agencies, but nevertheless feel the provision of potable water should be considered an achievable goal.

If Singapore can do it, why not Phuket?

The ability to do so would be well worth the investment, bringing big cost savings to consumers while making a huge reduction in the number of plastic water bottles incinerated at Saphan Hin.

Goals can be achieved only after they have been set, but the present reality is that our water providers seem to have little desire to provide safe, potable water to Phuket homes.

Consumers don’t demand it – and of course the status quo is highly acceptable to bottled water suppliers.

While the idea of potable tap water might seem like the stuff of science fiction here, the technology needed to make it has been available for decades. Today, many people have water-treatment equipment fitted to supply pipes in their homes.

If the water is truly treated to potable standards when it leaves the factory, why not make the extra effort to have it arrive in Phuket’s homes and offices in the same condition, rather than wasting the initial investment and ongoing costs of treating it in the first place?

What’s needed is a change in mentality and better public awareness of the need to protect the quality of water at the source, whether it be groundwater or supplies stored in local reservoirs.

Possible areas to start might include ending the practice of holding large scale events, such as Kratong floating rituals, in public reservoirs, as occurred at Bangwad Reservoir for years.

This year, the annual event was finally switched by Kathu Municipality to the pond in front of the Tin Mining Museum.

But sadly the practice re-emerged at the new ’boutique reservoir’ behind Phuket Rajabhat University, even though the school has a perfectly suitable lake at which to conduct such activities on its own campus grounds.

If we continue to encourage young minds to sully the public water supply, how would the change in mentality requisite for the provision of potable water on Phuket ever occur?

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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